Libya live blog: U.S., allies launch missiles against Gadhafi forces
A Tomahawk missile is launched from the guided-missile destroyer USS Barry in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn late Saturday night.
March 19th, 2011
09:50 PM ET

Libya live blog: U.S., allies launch missiles against Gadhafi forces

The latest developments on the situation in Libya, where the government declared a cease-fire Friday after the United Nations voted to impose a no-fly zone in response to weeks of bloody clashes between forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi and rebels. Read our complete story and check out our full coverage on unrest in the Arab world. Also, don't miss a gripping, high-resolution gallery of images from Libya.

[9:50 p.m. ET, 3:50 a.m. in Libya] A woman in Tripoli says she was awoken this morning by a loud explosion from a nearby military base.

After being shaken from her sleep around 2:20 a.m., she said she heard gunfire and went to the roof of her building to observe.

"Then I heard the second explosion," she said. She saw fire rising up from the direction of Mitiga Airport, formerly known as the U.S. Wheelus Air Base.

She also said that people continue to live in fear of Gadhafi. "They're afraid to come out because when they do, he attacked them very, very severely," she says. "This is putting terror in all neighborhoods."

[9:30 p.m. ET, 3:30 a.m. in Libya] State TV in Libya reported early Sunday that 48 people were killed and 150 injured in coalition airstrikes. CNN was not immediately able to independently confirm the report.

[9:20 p.m. ET, 3:20 a.m. in Libya] Britain's Royal Air Force the RAF has launched Stormshadow missiles from a number of Tornado GR4 fast jets as part of a series of coordinated coalition strikes against Libya, the Ministry of Defense said.

"We made clear that if Gaddafi did not comply with the UN Security Council Resolution 1973, it would be enforced through military action. Our Armed Forces have therefore participated in a co-ordinated international coalition strike against key military installations," defense secretary Liam Fox said in a statement.

"The fast jets flew 3,000 miles from RAF Marham and back making this the longest range bombing mission conducted by the RAF since the Falklands conflict," he said. "HMS Westminster is off the coast of Libya and HMS Cumberland is in the region ready to support operations. Typhoon aircraft are also standing by to provide support."

[9:10 p.m. ET, 3:10 a.m. in Libya] Benghazi remains eerily quiet but tense after a day of fights between Gadhafi supporters and opposition fighters, CNN's Arwa Damon reports.

Anti-Gadhafi forces in Benghazi were buoyed by the international intervention but still expect more to come from Gadhafi.

"This is not yet a victory for them. They expect Gadhafi forces to carry something out again, they do not think this is over," she said. "People do not take Gadhafi's threats lightly. They have learned from four decades of his rule. They expect him to plan some kind of maneuver."

[8:45 p.m. ET, 2:45 a.m. in Libya] It is now mostly quiet in Tripoli, just minutes after sustained anti-aircraft gunfire, Robertson reports.

[8:33 p.m. ET, 2:33 a.m. in Libya] Heavy anti-aircraft gunfire can be heard in Tripoli, CNN's Nic Robertson reported.

Robertson said anti-aircraft gunfire also was heard a few hours ago, but it is now more intense. The current round followed a couple of loud explosions, Robertson reported from Tripoli.

[8:26 p.m. ET, 2:26 a.m. in Libya] The Department of State has issued a statement reminding media organizations that no U.S. officials remain in Libya, limiting its ability to provide assistance to U.S. citizens or other employees of U.S.-based news organizations. The State Department continues to advise against travel to Libya and urges U.S. citizens already in Libya to depart immediately.

[7:41 p.m. ET, 1:41 a.m. in Libya] After delaying his trip to Russian, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been keeping a close eye on the situation in Libya, a Pentagon spokesman said.

"Secretary Gates has been in near constant contact with the Joint Staff as planning for Operation Odyssey Dawn has evolved. He has conducted multiple individual and conference with National Security Adviser Donilon and President Obama. And, of course, he continues to receive a steady flow of operational and intelligence information," spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

[6:20 p.m. ET, 12:20 a.m. in Libya] A defiant Moammar Gadhafi says missile strikes launched Saturday night are grounds for a "crusade war" and vowed to fight back.

"The Libyan people will fight against this aggression. All you people of the Islamic nations and Africa. And all you people in Latin America, and asia to stand with the Libyan people in its fight agaist this aggression," he said.

"France has carried an aggression against Libya. The security council and the international community has a responsibility to do what it takes about this aggression against the sovereign state."

[6:01 p.m. ET, 12:01 a.m. in Libya] Hours after coalition forces launched the first wave of attacks against his military forces, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said his people will fight back against undeserved "naked aggression."

Libyan state TV broadcast Gadhafi's response, which included a call for people to take arms in the "war zone."

[5:45 p.m. ET, 11:45 p.m. in Libya] Moammar Gadhafi is due to make an address soon, according to media reports citing Libyan TV.

[5:36 p.m. ET, 11:36 p.m. in Libya] Russia reacted "with regret" Saturday to the start of international military action in Libya, urging an end to violence on all sides.

It said the United Nations resolution that authorized the use of force had been "hastily adopted."

"We again urge all Libyan sides, as well as the participants of the military operation, to do everything they can to prevent the suffering of innocent civilians and to ensure a speedy cease-fire and an end to violence," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

[5:04 p.m. ET, 11:04 p.m. in Libya] Armed police are gathering outside government buildings in Tripoli and the streets are mostly clear of the revelers that had gathered earlier Saturday evening, CNN's Nic Robertson said.

Earlier, people were playing music and dancing in the street outside Gadhafi's palace compound in an apparent show of celebration, Roberston said. The missile strikes were inaudible over the music and revelry, he said.

[5:04 p.m. ET, 11:04 p.m. in Libya] Coalition strikes were launched despite a government-initiated cease-fire and "major reforms in economic and organizational contexts," a Libyan government spokesman says.

"The claim that this aggression is for the protection of civilians is contradicted by what has really happened on the ground tonight."

[5:04 p.m. ET, 11:04 p.m. in Libya] President Obama is planning for the U.S. portion of the military action in Libya to only last for a few days, according to a senior administration official.

"In terms of the heavy kinetic portion of this military action, the president envisions it as lasting days, not weeks," said the senior official. "After that we'll take more of a supporting role."

[4:58 p.m. ET, 10:58 p.m. in Libya] Air attacks on several locations in Tripoli and Misrata have caused "real harm" to civilians, a Libyan government spokesman said Saturday.

"I am very sorry and saddened that my country is facing a barbaric and armed attack," the spokesman said, adding that "this aggression will not weaken our spirits."

[4:28 p.m. ET, 10:28 p.m. in Libya] More than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from U.S and British ships and submarines, striking more than 20 integrated air defense systems and air defense facilities ashore, a Joint Chiefs of Staff official said Saturday.

The goals of "Operation Odyssey Dawn" are to prevent further attacks on Libyan citizens and opposition groups and to degrade the capability of Moammar Gadhafi's forces to resist a no-fly zone, Vice Admiral William E. Gortney Director said.

The strikes were carefully coordinated based on an assessment of whether the targets posed a direct threat to coalition pilots or to the people of Libya, he said.

"This is an international military effort urged by the Libyan people themselves and other Arab nations," Gortney said, noting that U.S. military forces are on the "leadership edge" of the operation.

"This is just the first phase of what will likely be a multi-phase designed to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution."

[4:10 p.m. ET, 10:10 p.m. in Libya] U.S. President Barack Obama said military action in Libya is not an outcome the United States had sought.

"The use of force is not our first choice, and it is not a choice I make lightly," he said in an audio message from Brazil. "But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy and his forces step up their assault."

He also said the United States will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground on Libya. Obama emphasized that the United States was acting as part of a broad coalition of U.S. allies to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution, and not unilaterally.

"The writ of the international community must be enforced," he said. "We are answering the calls of a threatened people and we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world."

[3:55 p.m. ET, 9:55 p.m. in Libya] The U.S. military has launched its first missiles in Libya against Moammar Gadhafi's forces in the western part of the country, a senior Defense Department official said Saturday.

U.S. Tomahawk missiles landed in the area around Tripoli and Misrata, the official said, adding that the action was taken after Gadhafi failed to comply with a cease-fire.

The first part of the multi-phase approach will be to degrade air defenses, CNN's Chris Lawrence reports, citing the Defense Department official. Most of the first strikes will be concentrated around Tripoli and Misrata, specifically to take out his air defenses. Ground forces will be targeted as well because they carry capability to shoot down planes, the official said.

[3:44 p.m. ET, 9:44 p.m. in Libya] British Prime Minister David Cameron said military action was necessary to enforce the cease-fire and prevent Moammar Gadhafi from attacking his people.

"What we are doing is necessary, it is legal and it is right," he said. "I believe we should not stand aside while this dictator murders his own people."

[2:32 p.m. ET, 8:32 p.m. in Libya] A U.S. defense official said the United States is poised to launch cruise missiles from warships in the Mediterranean Sea, and that these strikes would target Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses. The United States is prepared to "defend its allies flying over Libyan airspace and enforce the no-fly zone," the official said.

[1:15 p.m. ET, 7:15 p.m. in Libya] French planes fired on a Libyan military vehicle Saturday evening, according to the French Defense Ministry.

[12:43 p.m. ET, 6:43 p.m. in Libya] The United States is standing with its allies and partners in enforcing the U.N. resolution on Libya, and it is also behind the Libyan people, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday. "We will stand with the people of Libya and we will not waiver (in our effort) to protect them," she said.

[12:39 p.m. ET, 6:39 p.m. in Libya] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the Arab League's stance on Libya, saying it "changed the diplomatic landscape." The group last week approved the establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya.

[12:36 p.m. ET, 6:36 p.m. in Libya] The Libyan government "has lost all legitimacy," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday, adding that the international community is right to enforce immediately the United Nations resolution. "Further delay will only put more civilians at risk," she said in Paris.

[12:34 p.m. ET, 6:34 p.m. in Libya] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that despite talk of a cease-fire from Libya, Moammar Gadhafi "continues to defy the world." "His attacks on civilians go on," she told reporters Saturday.

[11:04 a.m. ET, 5:04 p.m. in Libya] The French air force is opposing any aggression by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi against the population of rebel-held Benghazi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Saturday. "As of now, our aircraft are preventing planes from attacking the town," Sarkozy said. "Our French aircraft are ready to intervene against tanks."

[10:58 a.m. ET, 4:58 p.m. in Libya] Countries attending a meeting in Paris sent Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi a warning, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Saturday.

"If there is not an immediate cease-fire and withdrawal of the forces that have been attacking civilian populations in the last few weeks, our countries will have recourse to military means," Sarkozy said. Sarkozy said the warning was endorsed by all participants at the Paris summit.

Libya's population "must not be deprived of its rights by violence and terror," Sarkozy said. "There is still time for Colonel Gadhafi to avoid the worst, by complying immediately and unreservedly with all the demands of the international community. The doors of diplomacy will open once again when the aggression stops."

[10:51 a.m. ET, 4:51 p.m. in Libya] U.S., European and Arab leaders met Saturday at a last-minute Paris meeting on Libya.  "There is minute-by-minute consultation between the United States and the militaries of other countries that are considering their support of action" under a U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force, a senior State Department official told reporters.

[10:40 a.m. ET, 4:40 p.m. in Libya] A French official confirms that French fighter jets are flying over Libya.

[9:55 a.m. ET, 3:55 p.m. in Libya] Moammar Gadhafi's military forces pushed into the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Saturday. Artillery rounds landed inside the city, and pro-Gadhafi tanks rolled into the town firing rounds, witnesses said. Plumes of smoke rose in Benghazi as civilians said buildings came under small arms fire.

[7:35 a.m. ET, 1:35 p.m. in Libya] Oil production has been dropping and Libya wants foreign and Libyan employees to go back to the oil fields, Libyan oil minister Shukri Ghanem told reporters Saturday.

[6:19 a.m. ET Saturday, 12:19 p.m. in Libya] Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's government on Saturday sent harsh messages to leaders such as U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "You have no right ever to intervene in our internal affairs," said a letter read by Libyan government spokesman Musa Ibrahim. The letter also said the government would never fire "a single bullet" against its citizens. Gadhafi's government continued to blame the conflict in Libya on al Qaeda.

[6:05 a.m. ET Saturday, 12:05 p.m. in Libya] A CNN team saw tanks belonging to forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi enter Benghazi on Saturday, and observed rebel tanks moving to confront them. Tank, mortar and artillery fire echoed across the city, interspersed with sustained bursts of small arms fire. Plumes of smoke could been seen rising above Benghazi.

[4:35 a.m. ET Saturday, 10:35 a.m. in Libya] CNN journalists observed tanks moving north from 5 kilometers south of Benghazi and other tanks moving through the western part of the city. It is not known which side the tanks belonged to. The journalists also saw tank and artillery rounds land inside the city.

[3:56 a.m. ET Saturday, 9:56 a.m. in Libya] A fighter jet was shot down and burst into flames Saturday in the area of Benghazi. Meanwhile, explosions could be heard in the city, which has been a stronghold for rebels opposing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. It was not immediately clear who the fighter jet belonged to. Rebels have vowed to defend Benghazi to the death.

On Friday, the Libyan government said it was abiding by a cease-fire, but witnesses have said violence from pro-Gadhafi forces has continued.

[12:23 a.m. ET Saturday, 6:23 a.m. in Libya] Agence France-Presse reported airstrikes and explosions Saturday morning in an area southwest of Benghazi. CNN had not independently confirmed the report.

soundoff (770 Responses)
  1. GadafiWillBeFried

    ""We again urge all Libyan sides, as well as the participants of the military operation, to do everything they can to prevent the suffering of innocent civilians and to ensure a speedy cease-fire and an end to violence," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement."

    Isn't exactly what's happening ? By taking out AA defense, planes and tank and other toys it will be verry easy to protect the civilians from Gadafi's bullies

    "the rebel aircraft shot down earlier today was surely in breach of the no-fly zone"
    the no-fly zone is for Gadafi !
    It's why it's called an enforced no fly zone.

    Gadafi was shelling the towns all night and bombing as well.
    the cease fire was long breached which allowed full retaliation

    So far only military assets are targeted

    March 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kiko Chon

    I have seen Gadhafi on Saturday Night Live and he is not that bad of a man, so why do we attack him?
    Gadhafi was on SNL twice I think.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kermit

      Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy was looking ok too .....

      March 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Live Free or

    This just in: The United Nations has just declared that a permanent "No Fly Zone" should be implemented across strategic areas of the 50 States to protect the Native Americans whose land we have stolen. The "No Fly Zone" will prevent any air activity over Alaska, Taxas, Oklahoma and other strategic, natural resource areas. This will be implemented to protect the interests of all Native Americans, the UN has assured us. It has nothing to o with oil or other natural resources.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • theWholeStory

      It's good to be a permenant member of the UN... veto 😉

      March 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GianniD

    To everyone complaining about the bombings , please screw your head back on. The only reason their bombing Libya is because theirs certain areas where ghadafi's forces have equipment to take down planes , which is what their bombing. Their not bombing random house of course!

    Also , concerning the US spending needless money on this war..this question is answered by simple international economics. All countries do business with each other in one way or another , the US will profit when Libya has a decent government in the future which they can do business with , and all this scare about the oil crisis in Libya might even make everyone pay less at the pump when news coverage about the lack of high quality oil from ghadafi dies down. The people of Libya will admire americains after this , I'm pretty sure we will profit from this intervention in the long run.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Live Free or

      Anyone who thinks that 110 cruise missiles sent into Libya will not kill many innocent civilians should contact Charlie Sheen for a head check.

      March 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. walle62

    West starts war in every 10 years. It was time for this.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • theWholeStory

      How did the West "start" this war? Did the Arab League ask for a no-fly zone? Does the West include France and Italy, and the other 10 yes votes in the UN? Did the West make Libya attack demonstrators?

      Maybe it should be "every 10 years or so some crazy Dictator in the world decides to invade another country or kill it's own citizens", and this provokes a response from the "west"

      March 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike Toronto

    I am sending my moral support to Colonel Gaddafi and Libyan Army in this dramatic day!
    I Wish all of you to be strong as inhabitants of Stalingrad in 1942.

    "To the steel-hearted citizens of Tripoli – in token of the homage of the Canadian people".

    March 19, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Andy16

    I think the the outcome of libya, is really crucial to the united states, seeing as more and more countries are turning extreme. I say we should help keep libya and other countries away from dictatorship, yet, let them set up their own government. we pick them up when they fall, but let them walk on their own.

    March 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Serbia

    Go Gadhafi, Go Gadhagi, Fack Nato...... Go Gadhafiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
    Best wishes from Serbiaaaaa

    March 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Serbia

    Lybia is your country ...... Go Gadhafi, Go Gadhafi
    Serbia = Lybia

    March 19, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Serbia

    Colonel Gadhafi., Serbia is with you
    Colonel Gadhafi., Serbia is with you
    Colonel Gadhafi., Serbia is with you
    Colonel Gadhafi., Serbia is with you
    Colonel Gadhafi., Serbia is with you
    Colonel Gadhafi., Serbia is with you
    Colonel Gadhafi., Serbia is with you

    March 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazz7

      And what are your coordinates so we may give you a gift from all those who have been MURDERED , you piece of S;;;;;T

      March 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. pvs53

    We need to find a new source of energy so oil is not needed by USA. Then the goverments in the middle east will not have the money to fund terrorist. They will be desert dwellers once again. The sooner the better!

    March 19, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy16

      I agree with you, however i also think in the meentime, we could start drilling in our OWN country. becasue we are sitting on the most oil rich piece of land there is, and instead of depending on the middle east, we could be drilling our own oil. especially around texas. although enviormentalists keep stopping that. but at somepoints, you have prioritize things.

      March 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Live Free or

    For those who truly love peace, liberty and freedom in the USA (all 5 maybe), within a short period of time, the dollar will no longer be the world's major currency and American's will be introduced to a very miserable reality. We will not be able to fund our trillion dollar military which is being used to steal and kill all over the world. We will be forced to live within our means and our means will be limited. We will be humbled as a nation and we will learn, the hard way, why peace is better than war.

    March 19, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Serbia

    I'm getting sick of EU(NATO) and USA..They think they know everything,that they have the right to invade other countries..They are just modern imperialistic countries.They are not doing this for the people..they are doing this for oil resourses....Go Gaddafi...Косово и Метохија су срце СРБИЈЕ...Go Gaddafi go Libya.....Serbia supports you

    March 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy16

      I know youre just a troll. but since im in a good mood, ill play along. If the U.S. is such a greedy evil nation, why do millions of people flock to our country each year? at least we dont force dictatorships on people, and then later kill our own people. Id rather be a greedy oil driller, than a heartless dictating ego maniac. G.B.A.

      March 19, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazz7

      for what ever the reason , less ppl will be MURDERED u idiot and i'm sure those ppl will be greatful that they dont have to burie their loved ones , have u ever had to , I have u piece of SH////T

      March 19, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • theWholeStory

      Ten countries in the UN authorized this action and another 5 did not vote against it (many are not in NATO), Arab League requested this action.. Cool when your country has a natural disaster (Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004, Hati, etc.) I'm sure you won't be asking for any help from NATO or the "West".. By the way US get's almost no oil from Libya.

      March 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vinc

      Serbia is not supporting Lybia dictator. You do support it which make a big difference. Sooner or later dictator have to be removed or killed. What ever the reason, good or bad.

      March 20, 2011 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
  14. life

    i think its good take em down then let them barrow money so that way they will always have a debt with us and allies get what we want and complaints about gasucky should be let alne why dosent he stop then cant you do it peacefully lol

    March 19, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Derek

    The US Government is the biggest terrorist organization on the planet that hides behind the shield of spreading democracy throughout the world!!!! We have unjustifiably gone into a (10) year war in Iraq, are currently fighting a war in Afghanistan and have now waged war on Libya and can anyone give me one reason why?? America is falling to pieces and rotting from within because we want to police the rest of the world. We need to focus our efforts on building a better and stronger America and stop worrying about what other countries are doing. The hundreds of billions of dollars we have spent on war could have been spent on better education, healthcare, manufacturing and the creation of job so we can have a more productive society. Let these foreign countries figure out their own problems. None of the civilians of any of these aforementioned countries have called on the United States government for assistance. The US has taken it upon themselves to enter into these conflicts based on their own selfish interests and not for the betterment of these people. We bomb and kill hundreds and thousands of people then drop rice and water in their lap and say thank you you for your land and resources. Meanwhile we have bankrupted own country. Maybe we should call on the French, Canadians, English and others to help us fix our internal problems. It won't be long before the chickens come home to roost and it's Americans in the streets demanding that all are so-called leaders are dragged out of government because they have completely failed us!!!

    WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!!

    March 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dusty

      obviously you are out of touch with reality.If it was your head or home that had fire power pointed at it you would have a different outlook on life. You have got to be a bleeding heart liberial. I have nothing but sympathy and fear for the true citizens of Libiya. You are a rich democrat that can hide behind false beliefs and daddys money. Perhaps you will get5 a job and realize that the country you live in ( actually just get the hell out ) is not as bad as you and your buddies make it out to be. If you want to talk one on one ( if you are not afraid that is ) call me at 603-915-1219

      March 19, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dusty

      What a sissy. Obiviously you have never had to fight to keep something

      March 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Live Free or

      Hey Derek...great summary of our inept and wicked foreign policy.

      March 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Live Free or

      Hey, FYI: I just called 603 915 1219 and Sean Hannity answered the phone!

      March 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      If you don't like your country...MOVE.

      March 19, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Againstthewallinaustin

      Buddy. Get help. You're perceptions are via a glass of something, This IS happening. Coulda shoulda woulda doesn't cut it. If you do not believe in democracy, then leave. Those of us who do will stay.

      March 19, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
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